Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) and the Right to Self Defense

17th Century conservative philosopher Thomas Hobbes wrote  in his book ‘The Leviathan’ that the state was created because the right of individual self defense was paramount. But realistically, he thought there could be no agreement on what constituted legitimate self defense, so the state and the rule of law was instituted and the determination of what constituted legitimate self defense not left to individuals. Without the state and the rule of law, he thought the life of man would be ‘nasty, brutish and short.

Steven Pinker’s ‘The Better Angels of Our Nature’ documents the massive reduction in inter-personal violence that resulted from the rule of law as prescribed by Hobbes. Conservatives have only begun to have a problem with the rule of law when the latter began to be used to protect women and minorities from oppression. When it was used to enslave and oppress the rule of law was just fine.


About creativeconflictwisdom

I spent 32 years in a Fortune Five company working on conflict: organizational, labor relations and senior management. I have consulted in a dozen different business sectors and the US Military. I work with a local environmental non profit. I have written a book on the neuroscience of conflict, and its implications for conflict handling called Creative Conflict Wisdom (forthcoming).
This entry was posted in Conflict Book Reviews, Conflict History, Conflict Humor, Conflict Processes, US Political Conflict, Ways to handle conflict and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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